Faculty Focus – Ron Sharp, Instructor of Religion
My Unlikely Path to the Classroom
How did I end up at Kentucky Wesleyan? Higher education was not on my radar for many years. I had planned to serve in ministry full time and then the opportunity presented itself to work as a sales rep in Christian Publishing. Those were tremendous years – travelling, meeting authors and hosting author events, and assisting stores with book selection. I love books, as my offices and Kindle will agree. Publishing was a natural fit with my personality and interests. However, due to changes within the publishing industry, I found myself looking for another position. I left the world of publishing for higher education textbooks, and served as Assistant Textbook Manager at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix AZ. Again changes in the market dictated a move, but I liked the campus experience. That led me to being hired to manage the campus bookstore here at KWC (in what is now the Student Success Center).
Unexpectedly, I received a phone call one afternoon asking if I would be interested in serving on church staff at a church here in Owensboro. I said, “Yes,” but always wanted to remain connected to the campus. My role as advisor for the Sigma Nu Fraternity provided that for me.
Just as unexpectedly as I left KWC, I had the opportunity to return – teaching one class in religion when an adjunct was not able to teach a class. That was Fall, 2014. Teaching was important to me, as was serving in a church, because I wanted to do both, and not have to choose between the two. This was an ideal situation for me. Teaching made me better in ministry, and ministry made me better in teaching. I have continued teaching here since 2014.
A few years later, Vice-President Scott Kramer called and asked if I would be interested in managing The Panther’s Den. This was almost too good to be true. Teach, be on campus full time, and spend time around students daily!!! I said, “Yes,” and I’m still in The Den.
Earlier this year, I was appointed as a full-time instructor of religion, with ongoing responsibilities for The Panther’s Den. What I thought was only a dream was becoming my reality. So many changes have occurred over the years that I could never have planned. I am blessed in the true sense that I have not had to choose between my two great passions – education and the church.
My academic interests within religion are based on how religion impacts, and is impacted by, other academic disciplines. That is my rationale behind teaching “Topics in Religion and Society”, “A Religious History of the American People”, and “The Reformation at 500.” It likewise propels my interest in thinking through faith on film, Christian ethics, faith in literature, and faith in art. All of those are courses I plan to develop to satisfy my own curiosity, even if they are never taught in a classroom.
Currently my teaching load rotates between Survey of Christian Traditions, Introduction to Religion, Eastern Religious Traditions, and The Bible in its Context.
What do I do when I am not on Campus?
I am married (for almost 30 years) to the lovely and gracious Brenda Sharp. When not on campus, I enjoy spending time with her and in conversation about food and sports, which we both find particularly interesting. I enjoy listening to music, especially classical and musical theatre cast recordings, and, as you might expect, reading. I like movies, even if they are not good, for the experience they provide. I engage in cooking occasionally, but Brenda is a great cook, so I don’t get many opportunities.
I serve in ministry as Pastor of No Creek Community Church in Hartford KY. I have been there since 2017.
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy listening to musical theatre cast recordings. Prior to getting married, I spent several weeks annually in the pit conducting shows for community theatre – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, A…My Name is Alice, The Wiz, Once Upon a Mattress, West Side Story, Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Grease. Shows fit my attention span. Rehearse for six to eight weeks, present the show, and then it’s over. There is nothing like live theatre and being in the pit when the lights go down and you start the overture. Every audience is different, and that made theatre exciting for me.
Brenda and Me
We met at church, and I asked her out for our first date during the organ prelude at a Sunday morning worship service. I was praying God was on my side and that she would say yes. I proposed on New Year’s Eve at the Westin Canal Place in New Orleans. We had dinner and all the ESPN/ABC people were there for the Sugar Bowl. When I asked Brenda to marry me and we were celebrating, Dick Vitale (yes, Dicky V), came up and tried to talk her out of it. It was quite amusing to me, but Brenda had no idea who he was.
Favorite Season on Campus
When I first walked onto campus, I was struck by how “collegiate” it looked. This is especially true in the fall. The sights around campus in fall are therapeutic – the heat of summer is gone, the leaves are changing colors, and it’s time for football! The Grove is a wonderful location of reflection for me, and to stand there in the midst of the columns and trees is refreshing.
It’s a Great Day
Finally, my students will attest to my fixation with Chick-fil-A. It’s always a great day at Chick-fil-A, and I always want it to be a great day in my classes. A few years ago, I actually had an office hour at CFA, and it was the meeting place of choice when I needed to converse with a student.